How to Determine the Age of a Microsoft 365 Tenant

Finding the age of a Microsoft 365 tenant isn’t an important administrative operation. However, understanding how to retrieve this information (if asked) is an interesting question, which is why we spent several hours playing around with PowerShell and the Microsoft Graph to figure out how to answer the question. It’s the kind of in-depth analysis we do all the time to build content for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook.

How to Search the Microsoft 365 Audit Log for SharePoint and OneDrive Deletion Events

The Microsoft 365 audit log holds all kinds of useful data, including events logged for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business file deletions. It’s easy to use PowerShell to search the audit log to find and interpret the events and create a report. Large tenants might need to export the audit data on a regular basis to an external repository to allow for long-term retention and analysis. We explain the principles of the process in this article.

Policy Lookup for Microsoft 365 Retention Policies in Preview

The ability to lookup a user, site, or group and report the Microsoft 365 retention policies applicable to the location is now available in preview. The new feature helps administrators understand what retention policies might block the deletion of a mailbox, site, or group, something that’s often difficult when multiple retention policies exist in a tenant. Although welcome, it would be nice if Microsoft could extend the feature to add some actions. Maybe that will come in the next version.

Microsoft Introduces 99.99% SLA for Teams Calling

Microsoft enhanced a new 99.99% SLA for Teams Phone and Calling on December 1. The new SLA is backed with financial commitments for credit if Microsoft doesn’t meet its standards. All of this is very nice, as long as you understand how the SLA is calculated and what you need to do if problems happen to be in a position to make a claim.

What does Microsoft 365 Informed Network Routing Do?

Microsoft 365 informed network routing is now available, if you have the right Cisco SD WAN network gear in your datacenter. This is a set forward to help network controllers make better routing decisions for Microsoft 365 network traffic by providing application-specific quality of service metrics instead of using artificial probes to detect network issues. Sounds good, but will it make a difference to your Office 365 tenant? Read on…

Microsoft Extends Problematic Information Barriers Solution to All Education Tenants

Information barriers seem like a good idea. Implement policy-driven controls over who can communicate within a Microsoft 365 tenant. Microsoft is making the solution available to education tenants. In reality, they should spend some the engineering effort required to improve the current sad state of the information barriers solution. No GUI, horrible management, PowerShell with impenetrable errors, and a lack of visibility into how the solution works.

How to Find When Azure AD User Accounts Receive Microsoft 365 Licenses

A reader asked how to find when Azure AD accounts received certain licenses. As it turns out, this isn’t as simple as it seems. PowerShell can tell use when user accounts are enabled with service plans, but to get dates for licenses (products or SKUs), we need to go to the Graph API, and those dates aren’t quite there yet. In any case, it’s an interesting question which deserves some exploration to see if we can find an answer.

How to Find and Use Office 365 and Microsoft 365 Icons

The Microsoft Fasttrack portal includes a branding toolkit full of Microsoft 365 and Office 365 app icons which are very useful for internal communications. That’s an important point. While you might like to use the icons in external communications, like blog posts or presentations given at conferences, Microsoft doesn’t license their use for those purposes. But will Microsoft come after you if you slip a SharePoint or Teams logo into your next presentation. Probably not, as long as you use the icons tastefully.

Some Microsoft 365 Features Highlighted at Fall Ignite 2021 You Can Use Now

To help you recover from the blizzard of Microsoft 365 information released at Fall Ignite 2021, here are some notes about features and functionality you might have missed. Like any list created by a conference (virtual) attendee, it reflects my interests and what I was looking for. Feel free to disagree on the importance of any or all of the topics discussed here… and suggest some of your own in the comments.

Microsoft Talks Teams and Forgets About the Rest of Microsoft 365 in FY22 Q1 Results

Microsoft’s comments about their FY22 Q1 results to market analysts covered lots about Teams and not much else about Microsoft 365. Is that a problem? Well, Teams is a barometer for the health of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. If it’s doing well, then all the component parts are too. Although Microsoft didn’t give any new numbers for Office 365 or Teams users, strong growth in seats and revenue were reported. And Azure AD now has 500 million monthly active users.

How to Use a Microsoft 365 Retention Policy to Manage Inactive Mailbox Content

Most Microsoft 365 tenants will have to manage the mailboxes of ex-employees. Retention policies are an excellent method to achieve this goal, if you remember to add mailboxes to a suitable retention policy before deleting their Azure AD account. In this article, we consider Microsoft’s recommendation to use a specific retention policy for inactive mailboxes and how to go about using such a policy.

Massive Refresh of Whiteboard App Delivered for Teams and Other Clients

Microsoft has delivered a massive refresh for the Whiteboard app. Now available in Teams, browser, and Android clients (Windows native and iOS updates are coming), the update delivers many new features including reactions, importing graphics into whiteboards, and object alignment. A bunch of out-of-the-box templates can help people use Whiteboard in different scenarios, and if you’re looking for some digital smarts, there’s ink shape recognition to play with.

How to Use the Free Microsoft 365 Compliance Trial

Microsoft is making a free 90-day trial of Microsoft 365 E5 Compliance licenses available to tenants who don’t yet have compliance licenses. The purpose is to allow organizations to test the advanced compliance functionality which requires Office 365 E5 or Microsoft 365 E5 licenses. Microsoft obviously hopes that organizations will be so delighted at the functionality that they sign up for E5 licenses in the long run. If you don’t want to run a test in your production tenant, you can achieve much the same effect by getting an E5 trial tenant and testing there.

How Teams Makes Webinar Information Available for Search and eDiscovery

Teams-based webinars are a popular way of hosting events like product briefings or announcements. Behind the scenes, the Microsoft 365 substrate stores information about webinar speakers, attendance, and event details as lists in the meeting organizer’s OneDrive for Business account. The information stored in OneDrive is indexed and available for eDiscovery. It’s a great example of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem in action.

How to Manage Anonymized User Data in Microsoft 365 Usage Reports

The usage reports available in the Microsoft 365 admin center, Teams admin center, and other places now include anonymized user information by default. The new default became active on September 1, 2021 and the organization setting applies to any usage data generated by the Microsoft Graph usage reports API, which means that some scripts might create reports less interesting and useful than before. It’s a good change for privacy, but will organizations persist with the new default?

How to Find Delve Accounts with Disabled Document Insights

Microsoft has replaced the controls which disabled document insights in Delve with new Graph-based settings. However, you might still have a bunch of users with the Delve settings who need to migrate to the Graph settings. In this article, we explore how the settings work and how to query the Graph to find the set of users who disabled the setting in Delve. We can then use PowerShell to add those accounts to the group of disabled insights users for the Graph-based settings.

September 2021 Update Available for Office 365 for IT Pros

The September 2021 update is available to subscribers of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. The update for the only constantly updated book covers changes across Office 365 in the last month, including new functionality and features, a new SLA figure for the service, and a bunch of updated PowerShell examples. And we fixed some annoying typos. All in all, it was a busy but productive month. Please update and use the new text at your earliest convenience. We wouldn’t like you to use now obsolete information.

Microsoft 365’s New Retention Assistant Processes Multiple Workloads

Microsoft has moved retention processing for SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Teams, and Yammer from the Managed Folder Assistant to a new retention assistant. (background processing job). It’s part of an effort to use workload-agnostic processing whenever possible to perform retention actions across Microsoft 365.

How to Remove a Single Service Plan from Multiple Microsoft 365 Accounts with PowerShell

In this post, we describe how to use PowerShell to remove a single service plan from Microsoft 365 licenses using PowerShell. The script can remove any service plan from any SKU (license) in a tenant. You might want to do this to disable access to an obsolete feature (like Sway) or to prevent access to a new feature until the organization is ready to support user activity.

How to Monitor Changes to Microsoft 365 Retention Policies

Microsoft 365 retention policies control how the system removes items automatically from Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Teams, and other locations. Because these policies are so powerful, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on who makes changes to their settings. The audit log is a natural place to go looking for information about policy updates and while we can find information there, some of the data is oddly formatted or obscured for some reason. Persistence and PowerShell delivers answers, but this is a task way harder than it should be.

Is Microsoft’s Claimed 250 Million Teams Monthly Active Users Believable?

Microsoft claims that Teams has “nearly” 250 million monthly active users, which is quite a jump for the 145 million reported in April. We take a closer look at the numbers to try and figure out how Microsoft arrived at such a number. It seems like they can get there by lumping the numbers for commercial, education, and personal users together, but that’s not the same as reporting a nice simple number for commercial usage.

Microsoft Introduces Data Privacy Tag for Message Center Notifications

The message center in the Microsoft 365 admin center will soon use a new data privacy tag to highlight specific service updates to tenant administrators. No messages with the new tag have yet appeared, so it’s hard to know how Microsoft plans to use the new tag or what kind of attachments it will make available to administrators to help understand the sensitive data involved in data privacy. While we’re waiting, we took at look at the tags in use today and wrote some PowerShell to report which tag is most popular.

Publication of Office 365 for IT Pros (2022 Edition)

Office 365 for IT Pros, the only constantly-updated eBook covering Microsoft’s cloud productivity suite, has just released its eighth (2022) edition. The book is available from Gumroad.com. Completely revised after an end-to-end review, the new edition will receive monthly updates over the coming year to keep subscribers fully abreast of new developments within Office 365 and the wider Microsoft 365 ecosystem.

Microsoft’s Collaborative Work Model Ignores Practical Realities

Microsoft’s Collaborative Work Model (CWM) tries to paint a picture of how Microsoft 365 apps help people to organize tasks and get things done more efficiently. CWM isn’t a bad thing, as far as it goes, but it’s just not practical because it ignores the critical role played by email as the glue connecting Microsoft 365 apps together. Or more correctly, email and the substrate. Oh well, it’s only a marketing message…

Understand Licensing for Microsoft 365 Information Protection and Governance

Licensing is everyone’s favorite topic. Combine it with information protection and governance and peoples’ eyes glaze over. Even so, it’s important to know what information protection and compliance features need which licenses as you don’t want to get into a position where something stops working because Microsoft enables some code to enforce licensing requirements. This post covers the basics of licensing and how Microsoft differentiates between manual processing and automated processing when deciding if a feature needs a standard or premium license.

Microsoft 365 Compliance Center Gets New Content Search UI

The Microsoft 365 compliance center has a new content search UI. The new UI is prettier than before, but it’s also slower and more buggy. After several years of effort to develop content searches, you’d expect Microsoft to do better. A lot betterr. Unhappily, the beauty of the new interface seems to have distracted the engineers from the problems that become all too apparent when you try to use content searches to do real work. What, if any testing, was done to validate the new UI is unknown.

How Modern Comments Work in Word for Windows

The Word for Windows desktop app in Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise boasts “modern comments.” Some good features are included, like snippet previews in the email notifications sent when reviewers post comments to documents. Word even has its own task management capabilities which aren’t linked to Microsoft 365 tasks. That’s about the only bum note sounded by modern comments.

How to Report Membership of Microsoft 365 Compliance Role Groups

Compliance role groups control access to Microsoft 365 compliance functionality. A new permissions page makes it easier to manage these groups in the Microsoft 365 compliance center, where you can also manage the Azure AD roles used by Microsoft 365 compliance. If you want to generate a report about who holds what role, you’ve got to use PowerShell. The code is easy once you know which roles you want to report.

Microsoft Whiteboard Moves its Storage to OneDrive for Business

Microsoft has announced that Whiteboard will move its storage from Azure to OneDrive for Business. It’s a good move because it addresses several important issues. around search, eDiscovery, compliance, and data governance The switchover is due in October 2021, but Office 365 tenants will get an opt-in choice to move earlier.

Best and Most Comprehensive Office 365 Book Updated Again

The May 2021 update for the Office 365 for IT Pros (2021 edition) eBook contains changes to 20 of the 24 chapters. The changes cover many topics from Microsoft’s FY21 Q3 results to new sensitivity labels settings for Outlook. Now spanning over 1,300 pages, Office 365 for IT Pros is packed full of practical and most importantly, up-to-date knowledge and guidance about Office 365, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Teams, Planner, Azure AD, PowerShell, the Microsoft Graph, and many other topics.

Teams Daily Active User Number Hits 145 Million

In their FY21 Q3 results, Microsoft announced that Teams now boasts 145 million daily active users. That’s a growth of 30 million over the last six months. Office 365 now has nearly 300 million paid seats. A paid seat is different to an active user, but Microsoft loves to mix up its data so that people believe what Microsoft wants them to think. In any case, the numbers are impressive.

Teams Usage Data is Finally Obfuscated in Reports in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center

The Teams usage data reported in the Microsoft 365 admin center can now be obfuscated. Teams is the last workload to support this facility. It’s all very well to anonymize, deidentify, or obfuscate user data to protect individual privacy and it’s appropriate to do so in the Microsoft 365 admin center where people with several roles can access the data, but having a single on/off switch for data obfuscation for the Microsoft Graph Reports API is a real pain.

How to Control Updates for User Photos in Microsoft 365 Apps

Organizations can choose to control updates of user photos by policy in their Office 365 tenants or allow users to go ahead and use any image they like. In this article, we explore the value of having a user photo for every Office 365 account (and Teams and Groups too) and the choices organizations must make when they decide whether to control user-driven updates.

How to Find a Microsoft 365 Tenant Identifier

Every Microsoft 365 tenant has a tenant identifier. Sometimes you need to know what the identifier is, so here are several options to find it from PowerShell to the Azure AD portal to an external service. Tenant identifiers are public and need to be, otherwise apps wouldn’t be able to find the data they want.

Using an Auto-Claim Policy for Automatic Assignment of Licenses to Teams Users

A new Microsoft 365 admin center feature allows tenants to create an auto-claim policy to assign licenses when users sign into Teams for the first time. It seems like a good idea, but it’s limited by the fact that only Teams supports the auto-claim policy. No scoping exists either, which will disappoint those who like to manage licenses on a granular level. There’s some work to do before these policies will be right for everyone.

Accenture Releases Numbers for a Huge Teams Deployment

Microsoft and Accenture have published a case study including some interesting statistics about Accenture’s Microsoft 365 usage. Some interesting headline numbers are cited, but the more interesting detail about how Accenture manages such a large tenant isn’t discussed at all – and that would be very interesting to know.

Teams App Messages Captured by Microsoft 365 Substrate for Compliance Processing

The Microsoft 365 substrate now captures Teams app card data in compliance records to make the data available for eDiscovery, content searches, holds, and retention. The compliance records are stored in user and group mailboxes. Audit records for card interactions are also logged in the Office 365 audit log. Using compliance records means that some app data context is lost, but at least you can find the information.

How to Run a Trial of Viva Topics

Viva Topics is one of the four modules in the Microsoft Viva employee engagement platform. You can run a 25-user trial for 30 days to create some topics and see how things work. A trial should help an organization decide if they want to pay the $5/user/month Microsoft asks for Viva Topics licenses – and everyone needs a license to see topic cards, which is the point of Topics.

How to Use Microsoft 365 Priority Accounts for Access Checks

Microsoft 365 priority accounts are a way to mark accounts for special processing. Microsoft is building features to exploit priority accounts, but they can be used for other purposes, like checking if an account has account to a resource. Of course, multiple other methods exist to do the same job, but that’s not reason to exclude priority accounts from the mix.

Available Now: January 2021 Update for Office 365 for IT Pros

The January 2021 update is available for Office 365 for IT Pros, the only eBook about Microsoft’s cloud Office service that’s updated monthly. Twenty-one of the 24 content chapters are updated as change keeps on happening in Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Teams, Planner, Stream, Azure AD, and more.